Packed with thrilling car chases, tons of high-octane horsepower, and a pace that speeds from one plot point to the next with careless abandon, 'Getaway' is the sort of action flick that ideally would have audiences strap themselves in for an intensely gripping ride overflowing with metal upon metal violence, explosive collisions, and lots of street mayhem. And although the movie does, for the most part, deliver on that promise — cars smash, flip over, and shatter into pretty much everything on the road — it's ultimately a dull joyride.
At first glance, the film from director Courtney Solomon (best known for the agonizingly embarrassing 'Dungeons & Dragons') wants to be a muscle-car enthusiast's wet dream in the vein of 'Gone in 60 Seconds,' the 'Fast & Furious' franchise or 'The Getaway.' This attempt is made blatantly clear when the story's main attraction is a special edition Shelby GT500 Super Snake and given a particularly glamorizing slow dolly shot that feels more appropriate for a television commercial. Ethan Hawke may take top billing as former racecar driver Brent Magna, but when ordered by a mysterious voice (Jon Voight) to steal the vehicle, the actor takes a backseat to the drool-inducing performance of the Mustang.
Although he frustratingly questions the instructions given to him during various points of the movie, commanding him to really do nothing more than wreak havoc and evade police, Hawke's Magna does as he's told because the life of his kidnapped wife (Rebecca Budig) is continuously threatened. With the point of the plot quickly established and a beautiful Shelby prominently on display, the story's focus shifts into high-gear, creating panic and pandemonium while the voice's actual motives are withheld until a crucial moment that fails to heighten suspense. With Hawke tasked to look cool behind the wheel, the film's only saving grace is the endless, sometimes hair-raising action chase sequences, which are sadly undermined by the annoyingly widespread, rapid-fire editing that turns everything into an incoherent mess of debris flying everywhere.
The script by newcomers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker tries to complicate matters by throwing in a rowdy, unruly and savage chipmunk . . . ur, Selena Gomez, into the mix. Armed with a gun, a hooded sweater and the most nonthreatening face ever conceived, Gomez endeavors to show her acting range by playing a street-tough thug with mad computer skills. However, her demeanor and overtly-exaggerated attitude are obnoxiously unbearable and grating to watch. It's made all the worse when the filmmakers ask viewers to believe this insufferable kid is smart enough to hack the internet and the mystery man's elaborate computer setup from her tablet and phone. By the time we're meant to sympathize with her involvement, Gomez's unnamed kid is more of loathsome and largely unnecessary nuisance.
Thankfully, 'Getaway' is not without some minor merit, especially for those who love wildly explosive car chases and collisions performed by real stunt actors and almost no CGI. Solomon's modestly-budgeted action flick, filmed using a variety of HD video sources, offers a few rousingly sensational and tense sequences as various vehicles collide with one another or sent flying through the air, sometimes crashing with an earth-shattering boom. On the other hand, this one reason alone for watching the movie is also a bit of toss up when the story and characters are so uninteresting and monotonous. Gomez only makes matters worse and leaves action fans wanting more muscle and horse-power.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Home Video brings 'Getaway' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD25 disc with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The disc and flyer are housed inside a blue, eco-cutout case. After a short promo and trailer, viewers are taken to a static menu screen with options on the bottom.
'Getaway' screeches and crashes its way to Blu-ray with a souped-up 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode made from a variety of sources, some excellent and others pretty drab. The 2.40:1 image is largely unmemorable because of the ugly shaky-cam look and distracting editing coupled with being shot in a dull, dreary digital photography. The palette displays a good diversity of colors with primaries being the most dramatic and bold, but several spots of the picture appear cloudy and lifeless. Contrast is also all over the place, but that's partly intentional for the movie's deliberate live-streaming look. Black levels, on the other hand, are lush, rich and inky with outstanding shadow delineation. Fine object and textural details are equally good with plenty of sharp, well-defined lines in clothing, streets, buildings and facial complexions, making this a great high-def transfer.
Although the video may not be wholly satisfying, the movie, at least, debuts with a boisterous, earth-rumbling DTS-HD MA soundtrack that'll have listeners begging for more. Most impressive and shocking is a powerful, varied and terrifically robust low-end that shakes, rattles and slams with every car explosion and collision. The Shelby GT500 Super Snake growls, roars and thunders with authority in various chase sequences, and for those with capable subs, the power plant scene will send palpable tremors throughout the room and make the couch vibrate.
Much of the action is understandably front-heavy where dialogue is very well-prioritized and intelligible while movement between the three channels is clean and convincing. The mid-range is extensive and detailed, revealing every crunch, crash and bang of metal upon metal or against the pavement with stunning, meticulous clarity that never distorts or comes off too bright. Several of those same sounds and debris from collisions spread into the rears with flawless panning and believable directionality. Other, more subtle atmospherics are consistently employed, not expanding the soundfield but satisfyingly creating an environment that's immersive and terrifically engaging.
Vying to bethe next fast-paced, action-packed spectacle with cars, 'Getaway' delivers a good assortment of vehicular mayhem that's sometimes tense and thrilling. However, lifeless performances and a mediocre, motionless plot make for an empty shell of a vehicle that's loud but lacks the sort of engine to turn it into a high-octane muscle powerhouse. The Blu-ray arrives with excellent picture quality and a satisfyingly immersive audio presentation. In the end, a poor selection of bonus features make the overall package into a rental at best.